Viewpoint: Marijuana: Get informed and get ready

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By RoxAnn Klugman, J.D., LL.M. (Masters of Tax Laws), Hudson

The push is on to get marijuana legalized. There is big money pushing marijuana. The marijuana growers are pushing hard and according to the Wisconsin State Journal several large beer companies are considering selling water infused with marijuana. Heineken launched a cannabis-infused sparkling water in California last week.

The NIH has issued a very informative literature review, Marijuana (National Institute on Drug Abuse, Last updated June, 2018.) The article cites 118 studies from peer reviewed scientific journals.

The article's salient conclusions are listed below:

• Considerable evidence suggests that students who smoke marijuana have poorer educational outcomes than their nonsmoking peers. A review of 48 relevant studies found marijuana use to be associated with reduced educational attainment, reduced chances of graduating. A recent analysis using data from three large studies in Australia and New Zealand found that adolescents who used marijuana regularly were significantly less likely than their non-using peers to finish high school or obtain a degree. They also had a much higher chance of developing dependence, using other drugs and attempting suicide. Several studies have also linked heavy marijuana use to lower income, greater welfare dependence, unemployment, criminal behavior and lower life satisfaction.

• Studies have also suggested specific links between marijuana use and adverse consequences in the workplace, such as increased risk for injury or accidents. One study among postal workers found that employees who tested positive for marijuana on a pre-employment urine test had 55 percent more industrial accidents, 85 percent more injuries and 75 percent greater absenteeism compared with those who tested negative for marijuana use.

• Marijuana impairs short-term memory and judgment and distorts perception making it dangerous to drive. Marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time and studies have found a direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability.

But you say, "We need medical marijuana." Safe medicines based on cannabinoid chemicals derived from the marijuana plant have been available for decades and more are being developed. The FDA has approved several THC-based medications which are prescribed in pill form to treat nausea in patients undergoing cancer therapy and to stimulate appetite in patients with wasting syndrome due to AIDS.

The FDA also has approved a CBD-based liquid (cannabidiol) medication for the treatment of two forms of severe childhood epilepsy. It's being delivered to patients in a reliable dosage form and through a reproducible route of delivery to ensure that patients derive the anticipated benefits. There is currently a mouth spray (marijuana-based) medication that is undergoing clinical trials for treating the spasticity and neuropathic pain of multiple sclerosis. Researchers generally consider medications like these, which use purified chemicals derived from or based on those in the marijuana plant, to be more promising therapy than use of the whole marijuana plant.

In conclusion, medicinal marijuana is available. It is FDA-approved and that means it is proven to be "safe and effective." Knowing all the downside risks and problems caused by recreational marijuana why would anyone in a leadership and policy making position do anything to enable or encourage the use of recreational marijuana? Any politician voting to put marijuana in a referendum is either not informed or doesn't care about people! Maybe they care more about money and votes.